With senior guard back from injury, Greensburg Central Catholic girls rout Northgate

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Friday, February 16, 2024 | 10:38 PM


While she was cleared to return and was going to need ice treatment after the game, Cara Dupilka wasn’t sure how much she could give Greensburg Central Catholic in the first round of the playoffs after missing three games with a bone bruise in her left foot.

“I’m thinking maybe five minutes,” the senior guard said. “I wasn’t sure how it would go.”

Turns out, she probably could have taken the night off.

Dupilka’s walking boot was gone Friday as top-seeded GCC gave visiting Northgate the boot.

She scored a career-high 16 points as GCC promptly dismantled the 16th-seeded Flames, 77-10, in the Class 2A playoff opener.

In one of the most lopsided playoff games you’ll see, GCC (17-5) held Northgate (6-15) to two field goals, forced 30 turnovers and built leads of 28-2 and 59-5 after the first quarter and at halftime, respectively, while substantially lowering its defensive scoring average.

The Centurions advance to play Wednesday against No. 9 Rochester (15-7), which defeated No. 8 Burgettstown, 48-39. Burgettstown upset GCC in last year’s quarterfinals.

Any 59-point half is impressive, no matter the level. GCC scored 30 in the second quarter. GCC opened last year’s playoffs with a 60-point win over California (83-23) at Gateway.

Being back at home for the postseason opener made the Centurions look and feel even more dominant.

“We played well, and we stayed healthy,” GCC coach Chris Skatell said. “The first one is always the hardest one. It’s always good to play well.”

Northgate actually led for a few blinks of an eye, taking a 1-0 lead on an early free throw. But as soon as the Centurions put the squeeze on with full-court pressure, it was ball game.

Dupilka’s role could be pivotal for the Centurions, who are expected to make a title run.

“It was good to have Cara back,” Skatell said. “She gives us diversity, and she’s played a ton of basketball. You might have a night where someone is off, and you need that someone to pick it up.”

Senior guard Mya Morgan had 12 of her game-high 20 points in the first quarter for GCC. Senior guard Avery Davis joined her in double figures with 15 — 11 in the first eight minutes — and sophomore guard Erica Gribble had 12.

Gribble is 32 points away from 1,000 for her career that isn’t even halfway complete.

Dupilka, a Saint Vincent commit, said her foot was bothering her in late January, but she gutted it out to play the Serra Catholic game. She sat against Clairton, Winchester Thurston and Peters Township before testing the foot in a recent tri-scrimmage with Trinity and Highlands.

“It wasn’t the best news that I had to be in a boot for two weeks,” Dupilka said. “I had an MRI, and it was a stress bone bruise.

“I was happy to get back in the swing of things.”

GCC led 68-5 after three quarters, holding the Flames scoreless in the third.

“Now that we started the playoffs, we can put everything behind us (from the regular season) and focus on what matters most,” Dupilka said. “We want to get to the final. We came up short last year.”

Senior guard Samiyah Hardison had half of the Flames’ points with five. Northgate went more than 16 minutes between its two field goals.

Northgate, which came in averaging 23.9 points, lost eight of its final nine.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a TribLive reporter covering local sports in Westmoreland County. He can be reached at bbeckner@triblive.com.

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